Thesis Statements and the Drafting Process Help (page 2)

Updated on Sep 7, 2011

Where Your Thesis Statement Belongs

While there is no rule that states exactly where you should place your thesis statement, because it helps your reader by identifying your purpose, it should appear within the first or second paragraph of your essay. You want your reader to know before they read too much what idea you will develop. Think of it this way: Imagine someone you don't know calls you on the phone. After she introduces herself, you expect that she'll tell you why she's calling. What does she want? If she doesn't tell you, you could become annoyed, suspicious, and even angry. You deserve the courtesy of an explanation, and so does your reader. That explanation is your thesis statement.

While you should have a good working thesis statement to lead you through your draft, it's important to remember that even that statement is a draft. It's your preliminary version, and as you write, you may find you need to revise it. Be flexible. It makes more sense to revise it based on what you've written (if the writing works) than to revise a decent draft to fit your thesis.


Drafts are rough versions of your essay—a chance to get ideas on paper so you can shape them into an effective essay. To get started, draft a thesis statement that makes a strong assertion about your subject. Be sure it's focused and avoid simply making an announcement, asking a question or stating a fact.

Tips on Overcoming Writer's Block

  • Don't know what to say? Try one of the brainstorming techniques described in Lessons 3 and 4.
  • Don't know where to begin? Create an outline. This will help you put your ideas in order and give you a road map to follow.
  • Can't think of the right way to start? Skip the introduction and instead jump into the body of your essay. Once you know where you're going and what you have to say, come back and create an effective introduction.

The College Admissions Essay Difference

Admissions officers typically spend about three to four minutes on each application essay. They're not bound by any rule that says they have to read each one from start to finish. The best way to guarantee a full read and a better chance that your essay will help the admissions officer put your application in the "yes" pile is to hook the reader, and only gradually reveal your subject. If you hand your subject, and your treatment of that subject, to him or her in the opening paragraph, you're providing a great reason to stop reading.

Exercises for this concept can be found at Thesis Statements and the Drafting Process Practice.

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